Illinois Appeals Court ruling that Rahm is ineligible to run for mayor because he does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for a year prior to…">
Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Northwestern Law Prof on Rahm’s Prospects Now

Weeks ago, when most people thought that the challenge to Rahm Emanuel’s residency status was a lost cause, Northwestern Law Professor Sam Tenenbaum dissented. He reminded me of that today when I called him for his reaction to the Illinois Appeals Court ruling that Rahm is ineligible to run for mayor because he does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for a year prior to…

Weeks ago, when most people thought that the challenge to Rahm Emanuel’s residency status was a lost cause, Northwestern Law Professor Sam Tenenbaum dissented. He reminded me of that today when I called him for his reaction to the Illinois Appeals Court ruling that Rahm is ineligible to run for mayor because he does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for a year prior to the February 22nd primary.

“I told you [the challenge] wasn’t frivolous,” said Tenenbaum, a clinical associate professor of law, whose specialty is civil litigation.

Emanuel’s lawyers have already said they are appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court. So I put a new set of questions to the professor.

Does the Illinois Supreme Court have to take the case?

“The Illinois Supreme Court may not have to take the case. Normally, it is purely discretionary on their part. There are two exceptions that may apply:  First, if the Appellate Court grants a certificate of importance [i.e. the case is of public importance], then it is appealable as of right. Second, if there is a state constitutional issue that arises for the first time, it is also subject to appeal.  It is unlikely that the court will not hear the case given the clear public interest, but stranger things have happened. If the court takes the case, it will be expedited.” [Early voting starts a week from today, on January 31st.]

What happens if the state Supreme Court  declines to take the case or affirms the decision of the appeals judges that he cannot be on the ballot—and that would also mean, says Tenenbaum, that Emanuel would not be eligible to be a write-in candidate—can Rahm take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court?

“The only way to get to the U.S. Supreme Court is through a petition for certiorari, and [Rahm] would have to raise a United States Constitutional issue,” Professor Tenenbaum said. “I have not seen one, although he could try and argue that if residence has one meaning for voting purposes [Rahm has consistently voted here] and another for candidacy, it denies equal protection, but that would probably be a stretch.” [I wrote on that subject in late December.]

(Also in December, I raised with Professor Tenenbaum the question of whether Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke would have to recuse herself, since her husband, Alderman Ed Burke, supports Rahm’s most serious opponent, Gery Chico. “I don’t think the canon of judicial ethics would require that,” Tenenbaum said at the time, because her husband is not “a party to the challenge.”)

So, lots of uncertainty here, but one thing is clear: The ruling has thrown the mayor’s race on its head. The ballots are about to go to press, and the decision would appear to preclude putting Emanuel’s name on them. Suddenly pundits—not to mention Emanuel’s opponents—are beginning to think the previously unthinkable: Mayor Chico? Mayor Moseley Braun? Even Mayor Watkins or Mayor Del Valle?

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4 years ago
Posted by RitaMartin26

Wait a minute .... Pres Bush lived at the White House, but his home is in Texas...Pres. Obama lives in the White House but his home is in Chicago...The argument is that Rahm worked in the White House, but his home is in Chicago.

Why are they making Rahm drop out...because the other candidates know Rahm already won! We need Rahm! He is the only one who can really get our City back in the Black. Why are we fighting City Hall with residency requirements.

Stop fixing politics and let Rahm run for Mayor...what is meant to be will be.

4 years ago
Posted by pol&pers

I have a poor opinion of the reasoning displayed by the two judges. It's unusual for a colleague to so smartly point out the errors of their ways.

This is unfair to Rahm, to voters who can make up their own minds and adds problems we don't need.

4 years ago
Posted by chipolit

What's most disturbing in this whole situation is how the ruling so clealry shows that the judges went out of their way to pull Rahm off the ballot. Pol&pers, I agree, they are being unreasonable.

4 years ago
Posted by SKEPTICAL

There is somethingt incredibly arrogant and anti-democratic about judges who use tortured reasoning to kill the candidacy of a candidate who appears to be the clearl favorite of a substantial and apparently growing plurality of the voters. This is not about the personality of the candidates. it is about respect for the electorate. I hope the short time left before the election is not allowed to frustrate this matter from taking a full and proper course.

4 years ago
Posted by mlvlb

It would seem to me that being in Washington as a public servant (either elected official or White House staff) should not change the residency of an individual, just as going to college out of state does not change ones residency. No one working within a given administration is necessarily in Washington as a permanent resident. The Senators and Congress are still residents of the states they represent, or they couldn't run for re-election once they moved to Washington to serve under the logic displayed in the Rahm case.

4 years ago
Posted by ritchie

This is all so ridiculous, Rahm Emanuel was in service of his country while in the White House and came back to his hometown to further serve his community. The law should accommodate this aspect.

4 years ago
Posted by JohnHancock'sTower

If Rahm stays off the ballot, the White House will have lost Obama's Senate seat AND his chief of staff goes down in his hometown. I always suspected the Chicago machine pols resented Obama. They will likely savor this, at least until the S.C. reverses the lower court ruling (as I suspect they will).

4 years ago
Posted by DanTheMan

How are the judges being unreasonable? They are doing their job - interpreting the law. Emanuel is arrogantly asking us to disregard the law. He did not in fact live in Chicago for the past two years. He leased out his house. He transitioned from being a resident to being a real estate investor when he accepted the job in Washington. (And lets not forget - he chose to accept the job - it was not mandatory. All of this talk of being "in service to his country" is a bit silly. He could have easily turned it down if his true wish and intention was to stay in Chicago and be "in service to his city".)

One of his defense points is that he paid property taxes on his Chicago investment property on Hermitage (his former residence). Indirectly, his tenants actually paid those taxes via rent payments to Emanuel. Those property tax payments did NOT come out of his pocket.

Lets look at this a different way. The law says that one must be 35 years old and a natural born citizen to run for president of the US. Suppose the majority of the US favored a candidate that was 33 years old? Or was born in Canada but moved to the US when they were 2 years old? Should the law be disregarded just because they seem to be the popular choice, and "let the people decide"?

3 years ago
Posted by fabnews

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I perfectly agree with Dantheman: Emanuel is arrogantly asking people to disregard the law and the institutions. If he was a serious guy he would have stayed at the White House until the end of the Presidency. Emanuel is obviously pursuing exclusively personal success and power, no matter the consequences. He and the others like him led the entire Nation to present situation. Nobody should forget that.
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